June Classic: The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey by Homer

Rating: 4/5IMG_0851

The Odyssey is Homer’s epic of Odysseus’ 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War. While Odysseus battles mystical creatures and faces the wrath of the gods, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus stave off suitors vying for Penelope’s hand and Ithaca’s throne long enough for Odysseus to return.

SUPER late in coming, but here is my review of the classic I read in June, The Odyssey!

This is another classic that I can’t believe it took me so long to read! I really enjoyed the storyline of The Odyssey, but I thought that Odysseus himself was a flawed character that made some questionable decisions.

My favorite part of this epic was Odysseus’ descriptions of the adventures he went on (which is also the part that I read in Latin so many years ago). While the story about how he was found and the descriptions of his endless wit were “interesting” I thought he came across as a bit of an arrogant twat in some of the scenes.

Admittedly, I read this to get a little more background on Circe before starting the new retelling of the story of the infamous witch by Madeline Miller, and I accomplished that.

Overall, this is a classic I believe everyone should read; however, I don’t think I’ll be picking this up again for a reread in the future.

May Classic: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

A few days late, but here is my review of the classic for May, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare!

Shakespeare’s famous historical play tells of the events leading up to the assassination of Roman leader and dictator, Julius Caesar, and its immediate aftermath, with Rome plunged into civil war.

It’s so hard to review classics, especially classic plays. On the one had, this play is called classic for a reason and has had a profound impact on people and the world. On the other hand, I didn’t really derive any lasting enjoyment from reading it. This may be because I already knew about the events and how they supposedly occurred because I learned about it in Latin class.

One of the reasons that I wanted to read this is because I’m currently playing Assassins Creed: Origins which is set in Egypt during the time preceding the play (Cleopatra is one of the characters!). I thought this interpretation of historical events might help me brush up on what was happening in the time period and it certainly did that!

It was a relatively short read that fit into my busy schedule for this month. It was also the first book that I successfully completed on the app Serial Reader which delivers a little snippet of a classic book to your device every day (I’ve found this is an excellent way to chip away at daunting classics). Although this play did have some funny points, I feel like it would have been altogether more entertaining in the format it was meant to be enjoyed in. I hope that I’ll be able to see it performed at some point in the near future.

Mar. Classic Challenge: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My classic of the month for March was Alice and Wonderland! I’ll be the first one to admit that I was terrified of the animated Disney movie as a child. (Okay, yes, it still creeps my out.) In middle school, I read The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor which is an Alice “retelling” and loved them. Last month, I read Heartless which I had received in an OwlCrate many moons ago, and figure it was finally time to read this much-loved children’s classic. I own this gorgeous edition that was also included in the aforementioned OwlCrate, and dug right in.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Published: July 4, 1865 (edition by Rock Paper company published 2016)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2 Stars)

Perhaps it’s because I’m a little too old for it, but this book was just not for me. It was like a transcription of all of my childhood nightmares into a single book. Alice eats a mushroom and her neck turns into a serpent for goodness sake! Although this book is famous for it’s nonsense, there was so much that it detracted from any storyline that was apparent. I can see why children may enjoy this book, with all it’s topsy turviness, but I know for a fact that I never would have.

While it was interesting to read the source material for two books/series that I enjoyed, I think I’ll stick with the retellings on this one. It made me appreciate Marissa Meyer’s storytelling abilities in Heartless a lot more, and for that it was worth the hour or two of my life. I can now tell people that I’ve read this children’s classic! And also, tell the people who argued with me about the movie that NO, the book does not make me like the movie more. Though I may go and rewatch the movie at some point to see what similarities I can spot (during the day in a well lit area of course)!

February Classic Challenge: The Iliad by Homer

My February pick for my 2018 Read a Classic a Month challenge was The Iliad by Homer.

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The Iliad is one of the two great epics of Homer, and is typically described as one of the greatest war stories of all time, but to say the Iliad is a war story does not begin to describe the emotional sweep of its action and characters: Achilles, Helen, Hector, and other heroes of Greek myth and history in the tenth and final year of the Greek siege of Troy.
I may have cheated a little by starting this book in January, but I wanted to make sure this was finished up by early February! I broke my new-book buying ban for the year to order a gorgeous Limited Edition of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (which you can checkout on GOODREADS if you’re so inclined). It’s based off of the famous characters in The Iliad, and I promised myself I’d read the original before picking up the modern interpretation. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to it this month! After reading The Iliad, I can totally see where Madeline Miller and many authors before her (including Plato and Aeschylus) saw a relationship between Achilles and Patroclus.
This book is a classic for a reason, with a sweeping cast of characters spanning both the mortal and the immortal realms, it cannot be described as anything but “Epic.” The fight scenes were and all the name dropping did become tedious, but I understand that during the time the book was originally released the readers would know the heroes and lineages being mentioned. I ended up skimming paragraphs that were name-dense and I don’t think that it truly detracted from my reading experience.
To be completely honest, I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about the storyline of The Iliad. Although I took Latin for four years and subsequently translated large parts of The Odyssey and The Aeneid, I covered only a little of The Iliad.
The only character I really liked throughout were Achilles and Patroclus. Everyone were just kind of…horrible. Or at least very flawed. Achilles himself has some MAJOR flaws, but I at least understood his motivation and commiserated with him. Agamemnon and Hector were both a bit full of themselves, although Hector is by far the preferable of the two because he at least shows some heroism in fighting valiantly for his side. If I had to choose to support a side in the war, it wouldn’t be strictly the Greeks or the Trojans cause they both have major faults. I’ll leave it to the Gods to play favorites ;).
This is definitely a book that I wanted to read in full before I died, and now I can say that I have. I’m not sure if I’ll ever pick it up again to reread the whole things, but I definitely will be reading certain scenes again.
Have you read any Greek classics? Feel free to comment with your thoughts below!

January Classic Challenge: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

One of my goals for this year is reading one classic book a month. I feel like I am constantly pushing old books off my TBR as so many new ones are published each year! By reading a classic a month, I hope to gain a better understanding for the literature that has shaped so many other works throughout the years.

My pick for January was:

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.

Rating: 4 Stars

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First published in 1905, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH shocked the New York society it so deftly chronicles, portraying the moral, social and economic restraints on a woman who dared to claim the privileges of marriage without assuming the responsibilities.

Lily Bart, beautiful, witty and sophisticated, is accepted by ‘old money’ and courted by the growing tribe of nouveaux riches. But as she nears thirty, her foothold becomes precarious; a poor girl with expensive tastes, she needs a husband to preserve her social standing and to maintain her in the luxury she has come to expect. Whilst many have sought her, something – fastidiousness or integrity- prevents her from making a ‘suitable’ match.

Let me start off with this novel is divided into two “Books” like many older works are. Throughout the entirety of Book I, the plot seemed a little slow for me. I enjoyed this section for what it was, a critique of women’s rights in the early 20th century. While I felt horrible for Lily and her situation, attempting to find a marriage for money because she had little for herself, I still cringed at some of the decisions she made (even if the author’s point was that she had few other options). Overall I was underwhelmed by this first half and was dreading having to slug through the second portion, especially because it took me five days to get that far.

While Book II started off slowly, the action quickly picked up with Lily facing scandals abroad and attempting to pick up the pieces of her life while holding on to the strict morals everyone else believes she lacks. I’ll admit, I started crying twice during this section when faced with Lily’s slide into poverty while her former friends looked on. It was during this time that Lily’s true strength became more apparent, as she worked to pay off money loaned to her based on her own morals. While I knew how the book ended before hand, I was still crying by the end

It was very easy to forget that the description of the narrators’ thoughts were not always reliable. In many cases, Lily viewed situations in more rosy a light than they deserved, which I felt was very apparent in her description of Lawrence Selden. Selden provides a wonderful foil to Lily, representing what she could have been had she been a man. She herself notes on many occasions the freedom which she could have had to move about society and have affairs such as he did. Towards the end I came to detest him and his decisions. Although he constantly denounced the feelings of high society, and Lily almost hero worshiped him for his protestations, almost all his decisions regarding his relationships stemmed from societal whims.

This book averaged to 4 STARS. Book I was a 2 star read, but Book II redeemed the entirety of it, bringing up the overall rating.

What challenges are you hoping to complete this year?

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